Highways England says that almost 99% of England’s motorway and major A-road network will be free of roadworks in time for Christmas.
It is working hard to lift and complete almost 400 miles of roadworks across the country, bringing a bit of early festive cheer to fleet operators.
UK next day parcel delivery firm, DPD, will deliver 16 million parcels over the next three weeks, with its 9,000-strong army of drivers notching up more than 15 million miles.
Justin Pegg, UK operations director for DPD, said: “Time is always of the essence in our business, so the work Highways England does throughout the year and especially in December is hugely appreciated.
“We’re out there every single day in December – quite literally delivering Christmas – and if the roads are clear, it makes a huge difference to the service our drivers can provide.
“DPD will be moving a record number of parcels the length and breadth of the country this December and the vast majority will need to be delivered the next day.
“We started planning for Christmas in January and every aspect of that plan is painstakingly put together, but there are still elements that remain outside of our control, such as traffic and the weather.”
The roadworks embargo runs from 6am on December 22 until 12.01am on January 2.
By suspending or completing roadworks, more lanes will be open and many speed restrictions will be lifted. Highways England’s customer service director, Melanie Clarke, explained: “We’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible this Christmas and that’s why we’re keeping 99% of the road network we manage free from roadworks.
“Over the past two years we’ve already added 190 lane miles of much needed capacity and that will make life easier for those travelling around this month, as the Christmas countdown begins.”
This Christmas, more than 5,000 Highways England staff including traffic officers and control room operatives will be working around the clock, helping to clear incidents and manage congestion. During 2016/17 Highways England traffic officers attended more than 49,000 incidents, clearing just over 85% of them within an hour.
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “This will be welcome news for millions of shoppers – and indeed commuters – in the run up to Christmas. With stress levels bound to increase as we get closer to the 25th, drivers can take some reassurance that at least roadworks shouldn’t be adding to their frustration. That’s not to say there won’t be hold ups on particularly busy parts of the road network though, so we strongly recommend drivers plan their journeys carefully and try and avoid peak times if they can.”